Transformers: Age of Extinction

Jul 6, 2014

It's summer: Relax with patented Michael Bay insanity.

Transformers:  Age of Extinction

Grade: C+

Director: Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor)

Screenplay: Ehren Kruger (The Ring)

Cast: Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter), Stanley Tucci (Julie and Julia)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 165 min!

by John DeSando

“Who is this? Who are you? And who are you calling baby?” Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg)

When Cade Yeager, calling out his teen daughter's boyfriend,  also 

admonishes his hot 17 year-old, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), for her shrinking shorts and how to use cold water, etc., to wash them,  I suspected this Transformers: Age of Extinction might be a verbal cut above the previous three installments. After all, a rebellious teen and a single father present an even bigger challenge than tons of mechanical monster. However, there’s not enough smart-ass dialogue and way too much fighting, but Michael bay is in charge and mayhem is the first order of business.

Wahlberg, taking over nicely from the free-falling Shia LeBeouf, is a likeably impecunious inventor who acquires a truck, which happens to turn into Optimus Prime, the head of autobots, who were supporters of humans against other not so nice robots. Anyway, autobots are no longer in favor, and Decepticons are routing them out with the help of two baddies, Joshua Joyce (the always fun Stanley Tucci) and Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). You can look up the plot because it’s too convoluted to keep straight in this review, and the fun is in the visuals, especially the central car chase.

Ehren Kruger’s screenplay does superficially deal with interesting topics such as father-daughter dynamic, the loyalties of friends and enemies, and whether or not Michael Bay should produce another Transformer movie. The last point is a given; for that gift Hasbro Toys must be quite happy, as the toy-cartoon-movie progression has generated hundreds of millions of dollars, much summer mindless pleasure,  and an intellectual vacation for this critic, who can enjoy silly blockbusters as much as the next patron.

Yet, Bay and company hint at larger issues, such as the inscrutable alliances in American war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. When Autobots, Decepticons, the FBI, and the CIA, not to mention some “creators” out there, mix in the mayhem, my Ph.D. in English literature is not as big a help as I had hoped. Regardless, the amalgam of ambitions is challenging to deconstruct.  Better just to enjoy the visuals like the shrinking shorts.

Will there really be another edition? Here’s what makes me say, Yes:

“There are innumerable mysteries to the universe. But who we are, is not one of them. That answer lies inside us. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to my creators: leave Earth alone, for I'm coming for you!” (Voice of Peter Cullen)

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at